Bradley captains women’s rugby, battles cystic fibrosis

Christina Bradley fights for the ball during the Women’s Club Rugby Team’s 10-69 loss to the University of Alabama Saturday at the Preston Intramural Complex.

Chris Chamberlain

Christina Bradley fights battles both on and off the rugby field.

On the field, Bradley, a Corbin senior, serves as the captain for WKU’s women’s rugby team and plays scrum half, a position similar in importance to a football quarterback or basketball point guard.

Off the field, she lives with cystic fibrosis, or CF.

It’s Bradley’s on-and-off-field fights that earn the respect of faculty adviser and WKU rugby alumni April Schleig.

“She suffers from CF and struggles with her health,” Schleig said. “Even though she has it, she is still a tremendous athlete and leader on the team.”

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disorder that causes severe lung damage and nutritional deficiencies, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Treatments and screening for the disease have improved in recent years, according to Mayo, though in 2009, the average lifespan of people with CF was in the mid-30s, according to the CF Foundation.

Bradley is using her sport to raise awareness for the disease, organizing a six-team tournament to take place April 28 at the Preston Intramural Complex.

Money will be raised from the tournament through sponsors and will go to the CF Foundation.

“This was her idea to have this CF tournament, and it’s a hard thing to do, but she’s doing it,” Schleig said. “There’s a lot of time, energy and hoops to jump through, but she already has four teams committed.”

Bradley said she can’t wait for the CF tournament.

“It’s going to be a good day for WKU and rugby to look at and learn about CF,” she said. “We’re really just looking to give back at the community.”

In games Bradley is the bond between forwards and backs.

She receives the ball from the lineout and must remove the ball from the scrum, an ordered formation of  players in which the forwards of each team push up against each other with arms interlocked and heads together.

Bradley has big goals for the rest of WKU’s season, even after the team dropped its first match of the season 69-10 to Alabama Saturday at the Preston Intramural Complex.

Bradley saw the positive side of their first competitive match, which came after just two practices.

“I think it was awesome,” she said. “We played a lot better than we did last year.

“We just need to do a lot of conditioning. We need to start running, weightlifting and getting fit because we’re not used to playing 40-minute halves yet.”

Volunteer Coach Sheryl Turse also said she felt confident about her team going into their next game, a Saturday date in Auburn, Ala., against Auburn.

“They played with great spirit and support in the face of a very lopsided score,” she said. “We have a lot of young players, but our attitude is definitely our strength. We just need to gel together as a team and we’ll be fine.”